The greatcoat was chosen by some men as a replacement for the cloak in the 18th century - more specifically around 1750. After this point it was considered too old-fashioned and cloaks were then associated with soldiers or other specific professions (and funerals). For instance, some livery uniforms counted a greatcoat.
The greatcoat was worn out of doors and over the suit; much like the coats we know today. A typical greatcoat was made from heavy, thick materials which provided both warmth and could stand some use. Also, the cuffs and collar could be turned up as a protection against foul weather. This made it perfect for traveling in.
|Back of a French greatcoat, 1780's|
As it was intended to be able to bear the bumps and bruises that came with 18th century traveling it was often made of wool. Often, the pockets were quite deep so as to make it possible for the wearer t to keep papers or even food nearby. Little decoration was added to it due to its practical purpose. One thing which all greatcoats had in common was their colour: they were always grey.
The king's wardrobe contained several pieces of outerwear. His greatcoats were of wool for the winter and of a lighter fabric for the summer. The greatcoat would be sewn with silk cross which was less expensive and far more solid than the silk threads used for the suits.
|Being from 1811 this one is a bit late|
but is still like the ones used in the previous
The greatcoat reached just below the knee and ended around the calf. It was bulky - a far cry from the otherwise tailored suits seen at court. However, a bulkier coat allowed for the wearer to wear several layers underneath. Unquestionably, this was a welcome article of clothing during the colder months.
Four side panels made up the main part of the coat. Seams ran beneath the arms and down the middle of the back.
As can be imagined with such a purpose it was not confined to the upper classes. Although, the people at the bottom of society could not afford a specifically made greatcoat, it was used by the bourgeoisie as well.
The traditional greatcoat actually continued to be a part of most countries' military uniforms all the way up to the 1930's. It was then widely discarded as being too impractical.
|English Captain Thomas Coram, 1740 - the English|
were more often portrayed in their greatcoats than